The Supreme Court has ordered the Capital Development Authority to cancel the illegal lease agreements that allowed the setting up of commercial ventures inside Islamabads Fatima Jinnah Park and to take civil and criminal action against former CDA Chairman and present Secretary Petroleum, Kamran Lashari, for granting permission to these ventures in violation of law and in a non-transparent manner. While the judgment clearly upholds the public interest, the ball is again in the governments court. Hopefully, this time the champions of democracy will side with the people instead of power and money. Unfortunately, the governments record on this count is not too good. While the Supreme Court has consistently upheld the rule of law and passed judgments without fear or favour as is expected from it, the government seems to have resolved to subvert its decisions, dragging its feet in implementing them, and in many instances, finding a way of getting around them; letting those convicted by courts off the hook through presidential pardons and granting party tickets for re-election to fake degree holders whod been made to resign from Parliament by the court. Any positive momentum generated by the judgments of the independent judiciary has been derailed by the so-called democratic dispensation that seems hell-bent on preserving an anti-people status quo and a rotten political culture. To understand the crucial role of the government in bringing the matter to a just conclusion in this particular instance, lets decipher the courts judgment a bit more closely. The Supreme Court has directed the CDA to offer the site for re-auction only after getting approval from its Board and the Federal Government, which is required under the law, for converting parts of the public park into limited-access commercial facilities. In case the approval is not granted by either one of them, the commercial structures will be demolished. The illegal commercial ventures, a fast food restaurant and a leisure club, were constructed in violation of a 2006 verdict by the court that banned commercial ventures in public parks. There are other similar violations, and despite the courts rulings, the past and present government has not taken any steps to restore the public places to the people they claim to represent. Essentially, it is a matter of the governments policy orientation. A government that really cares about the large majority of Pakistanis who cannot afford to spend money on leisure and entertainment would make efforts towards improving and increasing facilities for their recreation, facilities that do not require money to enjoy. But instead of thinking about what are referred to as common citizens, the governments and their chosen functionaries are more interested in finding newer and better ways of exploiting the resources jointly owned by Pakistani people for the benefit of the few. They seem to be more interested in promoting the interests of private individuals and companies rather than the public that pays their salaries. A government that does not tire of championing the cause of the poor would not approve the carving out of a pleasure dome for the affluent from a park that is open to all, penniless or millionaire. Then of course is the question of accountability of public officials, no matter how senior. And this brings us to the man behind this, and a number of other similar violations, Kamran Lashari. The court has ordered CDA to take action against him through the Establishment Division, Government of Pakistan. The Supreme Court order states: A perusal of the documents made available to the court abundantly makes it clear that Kamran Lashari, the former chairman, CDA, in violation of the constitutional provisions, the CDA Ordinance 1960, as well as other rules and regulations on the subject, granted lease for 33 years of the government land at a very nominal lease money to M/S Siza Foods in a non-transparent manner, undoubtedly, with the connivance of the other officials of the CDA, therefore, they all deserve to be dealt with strictly for misconduct, departmentally as well as by instituting both civil and criminal action against them so that it may serve as a deterrent for like-minded persons, who discharge their duties/functions without adhering to the relevant provisions of the Constitution and the law. As Director General, Parks & Horticulture Authority, Lahore and CDA Chairman, he is clearly responsible for the reprehensible trend of treating public spaces as nothing more than revenue-generating assets, and doling them out for commercial use to private individuals and companies. In Lahore, he was assigned to rehabilitate the green belts that had suffered at the hands of extensive road expansion projects and restore the citys green character. Instead of following the mandate of PHA and planting trees, he created a jungle of billboards in the green belts and actually presided over the cutting of a large number of old trees to make the billboards visible. He created tasteless melas at the drop of a hat in Lahores public parks that destroyed them, put gaudy fibre-glass and plastic decorations in the canal and posh areas, and when it came to planting anything he went for useless decorative flowers and shrubs. The sanctioning of Doongi Ground and parts of St. Marys Park in Gulberg for private projects was done under him. Kamran Lasharis commercialisation of Islamabads public spaces and butchery of trees was similarly controversial. And now the court has ruled that he had acted illegally in the case of Fatima Jinnah Park. The question is: Will the government punish him for violating the constitution, the law and rules and procedures meant to govern his conduct, and institute an inquiry into other commercialisation deals facilitated by him in various capacities? Or will it protect him like it has done in the case of other violators of law? Those who struggled for the rule of law were inspired by decisions of the court that made public functionaries accountable for their actions. They were jubilant when the independent judiciary was restored and can see that it is performing its duty. At the same time, it is becoming obvious that this is not enough. For the rule of law to prevail, what is required is a government that truly represents the public interest and is sincere in implementing the decisions of an empowered judiciary. The writer is a freelance columnist.